Prolonged stress is one of many risk factors associated with addiction. This is partly because mood-altering drugs are fairly available. As well, our culture tends to promote “taking something” to help us calm down or relax.
For those in recovery from addictive disease, issues such as divorce or conflicts at home or work are often associated with increased stress and relapse. It is important to be aware of your overall stress level, but also to become aware of those stressors that are unique to you.
The symptoms of stress vary among individuals but fall into 4 categories:
- Thoughts: self-criticism, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, forgetfulness, preoccupation with the future, repetitive thoughts, fear of failure
- Feelings: anxiety, irritability, fear, moodiness, anger
- Behaviors: increased or decreased appetite, “snapping” at friends, acting impulsively, persistent smoking, teeth grinding or jaw clenching, being more accident-prone, withdrawal from others
- Physical symptoms: sleep disturbances, tight muscles, headaches, fatigue, cold or sweaty hands, back or neck problems, stomach distress, more colds and infections, rapid breathing, pounding heart, trembling, dry mouth
While everyone faces stress, it is important for those in recovery to find new ways to cope with it. If not, the risk of relapse is very high. Here are some suggestions:
If you need help coping with stress or substance abuse recovery, speak with a mental health professional.
By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
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